A group of scientists are waiting with bated breath for aliens to "phone home" any day now in response to a message they sent into space 40 years ago.
Using a powerful Stanford University telescope on Aug. 15, 1983, Japanese astronomers Hisashi Hirabayashi and Masaki Morimoto transmitted a message in the form of 13 drawings illustrating Earth's history, encoded into radio waves, with the aim of establishing contact with possible alien civilizations.
This week researchers in Japan, led by Shinya Narusawa from the University of Hyogo, will start using antennae from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to scan the skies for any signs of a response, as noted by the New York Post.
"A large number of exoplanets have been detected since the 1990s," Narusawa told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, as he explained intelligent life should be able to exist elsewhere in the universe.
Their search is focused on Altair, a star located a whopping 16.7 light-years away, with the possibility of a planet in its system supporting life. The message—known as "Hello, Is Anybody There?"—also includes information about our solar system and DNA.
But even without a response, researchers don't think you should assume the aliens left us on read. Failure to find a reply immediately is not being treated as a mission failure because it might take additional time for a response to reach us.